By Jay Monahan, commissioner, PGA Tour
Historically, golf has been perceived by many as an elitist sport with a culture that’s less than welcoming to differing viewpoints and ideas. Thankfully, this stereotype has been upended by the new face of golf that has emerged over the past few decades. A face we have been working to reflect on a more local level, as well.
Creating a diverse team at the PGA Tour is not only the right thing to do, it’s also the smart thing to do. Given the global appearance of our sport, we feel that building an energetic mix of voices and perspectives is the only way we will we be able to develop the best ideas, foster innovation and broaden the reach and impact of the PGA Tour. Integrating diversity and inclusion into the workplace is not viewed as a project we put on the to-do list and check off on occasion. It is something we live and breathe. It is incorporated into our multiple business unit goals as we look at all of our constituents — our people, our players, our partners, our planet (e.g., our global landscape) and our public perception (e.g., our fans).
One of our key jobs at the PGA Tour is to ensure we are inviting people from all walks of life to enjoy the game — in whatever form they choose. While some of those invitations have come organically, others have been more intentional. Two years ago, as an initial step, we created a multicultural initiative focused on starting a dialogue with the Latino community in the United States. The impact of this demographic on our culture will continue to grow in both influence and size, and we want to ensure golf is a part of the conversation this community is having. Our long-term goal is for the golf community to reflect what the country looks like.
To develop our multicultural marketing initiative, we took three steps: 1. We listened; 2. We partnered with people who are already talking to this audience in a culturally relevant way to help us figure out our voice; and 3. We produced content that addresses misconceptions and answers questions about golf that this audience may have, while also inviting them to consider golf as a form of entertainment.
In order to be more inclusive, we’re taking ourselves a little less seriously with the content we produce. For example, we’ve created Golf 101 videos in which we talk about everything from what’s fun about attending an event, to how the scoring system works. This has led to “the less strokes, the doper the bird” becoming a part of my lexicon. If you need an explanation, just refer to my Instagram (@pgatourcommish). Our “fun”content aims to explain who we are, and what golf has to offer in a voice that is relevant to those who don’t come from our traditional audience.
When I signed the #CEOAction pledge a year ago, I asked our team across the board to embody the goals of the pledge, both internally and externally. I think we’re on the right track, not just with the initiatives we’ve taken, but also in how we’ve come to reach decisions on all lines of our business — the strategic side, and in our interactions with our partners and employees. We’ve learned so much already, and have seen an overwhelmingly positive response.
While there is still a long way to go, a blogger’s recent experience makes me think that we may be closer to the target than we thought. During our Texas swing, we invited some local, cultural tastemakers with significant Latino audiences to come to our events. Most of them had never been to a PGA Tour event before, and I’m proud — but not surprised — to see they had a great experience, expressing that sentiment to their audiences.
Anali Martinez Gonzalez, founder and editor of The Nueva Latina, had this to say about her tournament experience: “I was invited to attend the PGA Tour Dell Technologies Matchplay in Austin, TX. I was super skeptical and didn’t want to get my hopes up. …I was SUPER surprised that I had a great time learning about and watching golf. It really is a beautiful sport and the fans are truly dedicated to the player they are supporting.” She added, “I took to my circle of friends to see if there are Latinas that I know who love and play golf. Sure enough, I received A LOT of responses…A day out for the PGA Tour Dell Matchplay was enough to show me that Latin@s are out there playing and watching golf.”
Another guest of ours, a vlogger named Albert Casarez who goes by X7 Albert, also had a really positive experience. He had this to say about his visit to the Valero Texas Open: “To actually be there in the environment that I was, with all the pros and everything, it was pretty awesome. It was a pretty awesome experience. It almost motivates me to want to get into golf, you know, and I actually probably will.”
Change is rarely comfortable, but as we examine our business goals, it’s obvious that change is not just important for idealistic reasons, but it’s also vital to our success. The ideals that our sport bestows are strong, and as we introduce new fans and sponsors, we find that we succeed from a business perspective while also bringing more opportunity and enjoyment to a wider audience, which is really at the heart of what’s important to us.
The CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion was spearheaded by PwC U.S. Chairman Tim Ryan.